Stories that Heal By inSprie with Rajeev Sigamoney

Raj and Brittnie Sigamoney
We asked Rajeev Sigamoney about his passion to use video and film as a medium to share God's message. Rajeev and his wife, Brittnie, are both involved in creative efforts to use media as a medium for outreach.

inSpire - Rajeev, I heard that you started out studying the sciences in college but eventually discovered that your passion was in the creative arts, particularly film. How did you make this discovery? What process did you go through to come to this realization?

Sigamoney - While I was in college doing an Engineering degree at Hopkins, I was very involved in my local church, Southern Asian Seventh-day Adventist Church. Being a part of a safe community gave me the ability to try my hand at many things I wasn't sure I would be any good at (and honestly, there were plenty of things that I wasn't that good at). But it was there that I wrote my first play for a vespers service based on an idea I came up with one night. I gathered my friends and even acted in it myself and when the production turned out exactly as I had envisioned, a switch turned on in my head. It was then that I continued writing plays for other services, then yearly church camps, then a weekly service at Sligo Adventist Church that we started for Young Adults. I first tried my hand at film with an elective class that I had in college. I can't say that my first film was all that great but I thoroughly enjoyed the process. And in doing so, realized that writing and storytelling were my passion and what I believed I was created to do. So shortly after that, I packed everything into my little silver Honda Civic and drove cross country to Hollywood.

inSpire - That must have been both exciting and scary! You came to Hollywood to do what?

Sigamoney - I came to Hollywood to make films. I honestly didn't have a clue as to how the industry worked, I just enjoyed doing it all and knew that visual storytelling had a huge impact on culture. And I knew that I had something to contribute to that conversation. Shortly after I arrived in LA, I started taking classes at the UCLA Extension program. It was there I took as many different classes as I could — writing, directing, producing. And the more things I tried, I quickly realized that I was best at writing and producing. Now writing was what I truly loved and what I believe I am meant to do. But the engineer in me still loved to be involved from start to finish and manage the overall project, so that's why I think the writing/producing combo felt best for me.

inSpire - I believe it was in Hollywood that you met your wife Brittnie. Tells us how that happened and how that impacted your passion for media and video production.

Sigamoney - Brittnie and I actually met when I was visiting Maryland, when my brother-in-law set me up on a blind date. Neither of us had any desire to be in a long distance relationship, so after our first time out, we didn't really talk for the next couple months. But then when I was visiting again over Christmas, we went out a second and a third time and each of us realized there was something really special there that we hadn't been able to find in any of the other relationships we had pursued in our past. It was truly a God thing.

And unlike those other relationships, rather than each of us trying to be what the other person was looking for — we allowed ourselves to truly be who we were. And something amazing happened in the process, the other person still loved us. Our strengths and our faults. And I can't express what a confidence this has given me in my life and in my storytelling — to be honest at all costs. The greatest gift that we can give others in film and television is the truth of our experiences. Sometimes these are tragic, sometimes these are challenging but if we stay the course, sometimes they truly end up beautiful.

inSpire - How do you see your interest in storytelling and film production tying in with the gospel commission? As I understand it, you want to create media that actually speaks to our contemporary culture, not just Adventist culture. It takes a different approach than what is typically done to be effective. What ideas are you experimenting with?

Sigamoney - My understanding of evangelism and the gospel is that it is always meant to be "good news." And what I often see passing for the gospel tends to be quite the opposite. Good stories, honestly told, convey truth about God to audiences that is just as necessary and inspired as what takes place in church every week. And it has the ability to do so without the baggage that most religious institutions battle when it comes to reaching people because of individuals previous experience with organizations. It has the ability to purely speak truth and good news. And in doing so, reach an audience that the church could never imagine reaching.

Some of the projects I am working on are "Jesus & Me" a webseries about a girl who takes Jesus to couples counseling because he is always right and she is always wrong. This comedic series allows viewers to connect with audiences regarding their issues and hopefully inspire honesty in our communication with God.

Another is entitled "The Record Keeper" which is a steam-punk webseries I like to call West Wing set in heaven. It chronicles a woman in an administrative position in heaven who keeps an accurate account of everything that has ever happened throughout history, so that the universe can judge whether God is good or not.

The great part of fiction and story is that it doesn't need to fully answer every question raised. But it does have to be honest and engage the audience. After that, it can trust that in the conversations that follow, God will continue the work started.

inSpire - Maybe you can give us an idea of the target audience you are trying to reach with these videos.

Sigamoney - The target audience of the web series is 18-35 year olds looking for comedic content online. The hope is after they are entertained with the episodes, we can engage them in a conversation regarding honesty with God, relationship with Jesus and attempt to bridge some of their issues with the church.

inSpire - Your ideas are very creative and obviously aimed at reaching people who struggle with orthodoxy or who may never darken the doors of a church, or it least they don't think they will. We can only pray that your efforts will result in viewers giving God a chance. Thanks for sharing.

NOTE: Since this interview was conducted Rajeev and Brittnie have moved to Pacific Union College where Rajeev heads up the PUC Film program and Brittnie works with the Communication Department.

This interview was conducted by Rich DuBose, Director of Pacific Union Conference Church Support Services and the inSpire project. All rights reserved © 2012 Click here for content usage information.